The picture becomes clearer . . .
With his kind permission, here’s a reprint of a story on Professor Mark Osler’s blog, Osler’s Razor (which I recommend, by the way).
– o O o –
It’s been a big week in the world of criminal law.
First, the good news: Mitch McConnell has agreed to allow a vote on the First Step Act, which seems ready to pass with room to spare. That’s great news — but it is not yet a done deal.
The other big story was the rollicking week in the Trump/Mueller saga. Last Friday, two key documents — sentencing memoranda in the Michael Cohen case — were released, and yesterday Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison. Through those developments, the following became clear:
1) The Mueller team has verified and corroborated evidence showing that President Trump directed Cohen to pay off two porn stars he is alleged to have had affairs with. Is that a big deal? Well, yes, given that Cohen just got three years in prison based in part on that crime, and anyone directing him to take that action would face the same criminal liability (since they caused the crime to occur).
2) The National Enquirer apparently cut a deal with Mueller, too, and has affirmed that the purpose of those payments was to affect the election. Ouch.
3) One of the Cohen sentencing documents laid out another troubling possibility: that people in the White House directed Cohen to lie in his congressional testimony. That’s a felony, too.
4) Finally, the documents made it pretty clear that Mueller has evidence of multiple lines of communication and coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.
And now the Democrats will have the power to use House committees to investigate any and all of this.
It’s looking very possible that there is good evidence that will show that the president committed felonies under federal law.
Here is what happens next:
The Mueller probe may be close to an end, either on its own accord or through administrative action. When that happens, we will see more indictments and Robert Mueller will make his report to the Attorney General (or, I suppose, the Acting Attorney General). It is up to the AG whether or not to send the report on to Congress, but that is probably a moot point now since the House Democrats will be able to subpoena the report.
In that report, it is possible, even probable, that Mueller will outline crimes by the president.
The most likely course in that even will be that the Democrat-controlled House votes to impeach and the Republican-controlled Senate then votes to acquit (conviction needs an almost-impossible 2/3 vote in the Senate). Everyone loses in every way under that scenario. Except, perhaps, the President, who can run for re-election as a martyr who “won.”
For Democratic prospects in 2020, the best course may simply be to beat Trump in the election, and then let him face charges (state and/or federal) once he is out of office.
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